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How To Better Retain Your Salespeople

There's an odd phenomenon that is happening not only in sales but also around the world. It's referred to as the "great resignation," in which millions of workers have quit their jobs and, in some cases, chosen not to return to their prior roles or to the workforce at all. How can you make sure your salespeople don't fall prey to this? Here's how you can help retain your salespeople.

The Reasons People Leave

In October and November 2021 alone, according to The Washington Post, more than 8.7 million Americans reportedly quit. So why are all of these people leaving or finding other employment? Is it the money? Their boss? The lack of vacation days? The work itself?

Cengage Group, the global education tech firm, may have some answers. Their November 2021 online report polled 1,200 adults who quit or planned to quit in the last six months. Cengage Group had this to say:

  • 91 percent: wanted to make more money
  • 89 percent: felt burnt out and unsupported
  • 83 percent: no longer felt like they were growing in their position
  • 82 percent: reconsidered their priorities or professional goals because of the pandemic
  • 81 percent: have other passions or a different career path they want to pursue

Your knee-jerk impulse to try and keep your salespeople may be to pay them more. But if you analyze the other top four results, there are far better ways to retain your talent.

Burnt Out and Unsupported

You've probably felt burnt out before. Burnout is a state of complete physical and/or emotional exhaustion at work. It can happen when people suffer from work-related stress for too long. It can also involve a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.

How to address burnout: In your one-on-ones, ask how your salesperson is doing. Be genuine and try to understand how they are feeling. Ask what you can do if they are feeling overwhelmed. Maybe there's a particular deal they are struggling with, or they might be feeling pressure from home. So often, people forget that coworkers have other obligations and struggles outside of work.

To retain your salespeople, ask how you can support your team better. No one likes to feel overwhelmed.

Professional Growth

The best leaders know they're supposed to create goals and challenges for their sales teams to keep them engaged and create a feeling of accomplishment. In some cases, salespeople may not be satisfied with just the status quo. Instead, they may feel the urge to achieve more or to move up within their role.

Moving up in the organization is not the only way people can grow. A change in responsibility or role can be just as refreshing and motivating. When someone on your sales team starts to look restless or bored in their current position, talk to them. Ask them what parts of the company they are interested in. Look for signs that they want to learn more about certain areas or products. Look for opportunities for lateral movements.

If you want to retain your salespeople, invest in them.

Readjusting Priorities

The pandemic did many things; a lot were negative, but surprisingly some were good too. First, it allowed people to reassess their priorities about what their careers should or could look like. For teams who spent months working from home, moving back into a building could be a tough transition. Polarizing health and political topics could make for some interpersonal stress. So, take the time to ask your salespeople what they want.

Do they want to spend more time with their families? Learn a new skill? Work from home? If it is more time at home, see if you can shift their schedules to a hybrid arrangement. Have them come in some days and stay at home other days.

Knowing what priorities have shifted for your team is vital to keeping them happy and with your company.

The Right Fit

McKinsey states, "70 percent of employees said that their work defines their sense of purpose." This points out that you, the leader, play an essential part in helping your employees find their purpose and live it as a leader.

A sense of purpose is not about economic exchanges – it's more aspirational. It allows people to feel as if they are making a difference, gives them a sense of meaning, and boosts morale and effectiveness.

If they don't feel like their role has a purpose, they are more likely to look for a position elsewhere.

You can help drive a sense of purpose through team onboarding and trainings, company meetings, mentorship or development, and culture-building activities such as team outings and recognition.

In the End

To retain your salespeople, you'll want to look at more than just pay. Make sure you ask your team how they would like to feel supported when they start to feel burnt out. Talk to your team about their professional growth, priorities, and purpose changes.

In some cases, however, it is a compensation issue. If you think you need to adjust your compensation philosophy and structure, Pivotal Advisors can help. Reach out at info@pivotaladvaisors.com.

About Gary Braun

Gary is a founder and co-owner of Pivotal Advisors. He has worked for 20+ years as a salesperson and sales leader. Gary has been a guest speaker for many groups such as Vistage, Allied Executives, CEO Roundtable, Sales Management Association, and more. If you want to find out more about Gary check out his profile here.
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